Erryn reviews ‘With A Kick: Collection #2’ by Clare London. This book was released by the author on April 16, 2018 and is 232 pages. The audiobook was narrated by Joel Leslie and published by Jocular Press. The audio was released April 5, 2019 and is 8 hours and 58 minutes long. A copy was provided for an honest review.
Why I read this book: Ice cream? Alcohol? Joel Leslie? Count me in.
This collection includes Clare London’s second two charming London-based novellas of the With a Kick series – Pluck and Play and Double Scoop.
With a Kick: A new and enticing ice cream franchise, with a unique blend of full flavor, mischief, and romance. Patrick and Lee are struggling to make a success of their alcoholic ice cream shop in the center of tourist London. At the same time, their business partnership may take a turn toward the personal – if either of them can find the time and nerve to go for it!
Meanwhile, they cater to the wild and wonderful range of customers in the area, many of whom have their own romantic agenda. Will ice cream be the final ingredient they’re all looking for?
Each story is a self-contained romance but will follow the history of the shop throughout.
Pluck and Play: Curtis is a cheery young entrepreneur secretly licking his wounds after being beaten up by his ex-lover. Handsome cowboy Riley is stranded in London without money. His consolation is his music, and his fascination is Curtis. Their music brings them together, Riley’s guitar and Curtis’ poetry. But when Curtis is threatened by his ex-lover, Riley intends to be the man to help.
Double Scoop: A sudden disaster strikes the novelty ice cream shop With a Kick, threatening the livelihood of its owner, Patrick, and also his assistant Lee. The last thing in the world Patrick wants is to hurt Lee, but deeply held insecurities prevent him from confessing his love. And how long will Lee wait to make his own move? Hopefully, the disaster brings a new opportunity for them to make a go of things.
Collection No. 1 has also been released, featuring Clare London’s first two novellas, A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle, and also the two bonus short stories “Nice and Snow” and “Smack Happy”.
Clare London and the With A Kick Crew are back!
With A Kick is a café in London’s trendy SoHo district. They serve ice cream mixed with alcohol. In other words, dreamy treats with a kick. Each dessert has a special name and is created either by owner Patrick or server extraordinaire Lee. The names and concoctions from the first collection were cute so I was curious what would be dreamed up this time.
The first story, Pluck and Play, features Curtis and a mysterious cowboy. Curtis is a go-to guy in SoHo. He knows where you can get just about anything and he’s turned that knowledge into a business. He has a nice little concern and although he’s not wealthy, he does have a good thing going including friends and flatmates who don’t drive him bonkers. Well, perhaps Phiz does drive him a little nuts, but listeners from the first collection will remember the adorable guy whose mouth tends to run ahead of his brain. He’s as sweet as ever and his patient boyfriend Brian is also back in this story.
Curtis is out on a run when he encounters a nasty man who threatens him. Riley steps in to help him and Curtis notices immediately the man’s boots, cowboy hat, and Texas drawl. When Riley later sets up his guitar and amp in front of With A Kick, Curtis can’t help but be curious about this very attractive man. They enjoy each other’s company and even go out on a date. All very sweet.
Or it would be, but Curtis’ abusive ex-lover comes back into the picture, making his life miserable. As someone who had a nasty ex, I completely related to Curtis’ angst over dealing with someone who hurt him emotionally as well as physically. I also understood Riley’s desire to handle the situation with his fists because sometimes bullies only understand violence. In the end, a very creative solution dispatched the ex forever and the two men got their happy ending.
The second story, Double Scoop, is about Patrick the owner and Lee the loyal employee. While the first story was told entirely in Curtis’ point of view, this story was entirely from Patrick’s. He loves his shop and it has become his pride and joy. He also is quick to realize that Lee is a big part of that success. Patrick can even admit, to himself, that he cares deeply for Lee. As far as he’s concerned, though, he’s too old for the much younger man, so he watches and pines from afar.
Only a disaster involving the shop and Lee brings his feelings to the fore. Lee appears to reciprocate his feelings, but his insecurities hold him back. Only intervention from their friends forces the men to confront their feelings and put their hearts on the line.
I enjoyed this story because in the first collection Lee and Patrick had caught my eye. I’m a sucker for a good story where both men want the other but are too afraid to lose what they have. Friends to lovers, as it were. This story also brought back all my favorite characters from the previous stories so that was the cherry on the top, so to speak.
Finally, I have to mention the narrator, Joel Leslie. I’m a huge fan and he did not disappoint in this book. I loved how he had the London accent down but was able to throw in Riley’s Texas twang. Another great job and I highly recommend the collection.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.
She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter-three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her on all her social media.
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